PETALING JAYA - He was bound, beaten and burned with an iron for days, leading to his death - all because of a dispute over a laptop.
When 21-year-old Malaysian National Defence University student Zulfarhan Osman Zulkarnain was rushed to Hospital Serdang on Thursday (June 1), his body was found 80 per cent covered in bruises and burn marks.
The final-year navy cadet officer's two supposed friends who had rushed him to hospital were arrested, along with 34 other students - 30 from the university and four from Universiti Tenaga Nasional.
Over the laptop dispute, he was beaten and tortured for two days with a belt, rubber hose, iron and hanger by his varsity mates on May 20 and 21, a source said.
"A week later on May 27, two of his batch mates drove the victim to a clinic in Bangi for treatment.
"They brought him to the clinic again on May 31," the source said.
This time, they did not return to the university as they had snuck out without permission, and are believed to have holed up at an apartment in Serdang.
However, the duo realised that Zulfarhan's condition had worsened at around 8pm on Thursday and they had no choice but to rush him to Hospital Serdang.
Zulfarhan succumbed to his injuries about two hours later.
Selangor CID chief Senior Asst Comm Fadzil Ahmat confirmed the case is a murder investigation and that 36 students were arrested, but declined to comment further.
All 36 have been remanded for a week until June 8.
Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein has ordered the Armed Forces and the Malaysian National Defence University to conduct an immediate investigation into Zulfarhan's death.
"Very sad to hear the news about the death of a navy cadet officer, Zulfarhan Osman Zulkarnain, this morning, especially when we are focusing on fasting.
"I cannot imagine the family of the deceased receiving this sad news. I pray they are given strength and perseverance by Allah on their loss," said Hishammuddin.
"The death of Zulfarhan brings back sad memories when I took oath as Education Minister in 2004.
"At the time, a student in Negri Sembilan died after he was bullied by schoolmates.
"The incident is still clear in my mind and had a huge impact as after that incident, the Education Ministry and I worked very hard to eradicate bullying in school.
"I have been consistent, no one will be spared legal action if found guilty," Hishammuddin said in a statement on Friday (June 2).
The statement added that police would be conducting an investigation to determine the cause of the incident and those involved.
"An autopsy is being carried out to identify the cause of death," it said.
It said the Armed Forces viewed the matter seriously and would carry out an internal investigation without compromise, and take stern action against those involved.
The Armed Forces will help return Zulfarhan's remains to the family residence in Johor Baru and arrange for his burial at Tanah Perkuburan Kg Kurnia in Jalan Kebun Teh, Johor Baru.
The Armed Forces urged the public not to speculate on the matter and leave it to the authorities to investigate.